Concern over ‘ludicrous’ increase in second homes in Wells

A shortage of affordable housing is an ongoing concern in Wells. Picture: Chris Bishop

A shortage of affordable housing is an ongoing concern in Wells. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

Fresh calls are being made to tackle the affordable housing crisis in Wells after it emerged that almost a third of all homes in the town are now either second homes or holiday homes.

Norman Lamb MP Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Norman Lamb MP Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Wells Town Council is writing to North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, North Norfolk District Council and the Holkham Estate in the hope of working together to address the issue.

The increasing numbers means it is becoming even more difficult for young people to buy affordable homes in the town where they grew up, as prices rocket to meet demand from out-of-town buyers.

It is a problem felt by many coastal Norfolk communities and at this month's Wells Town Council meeting councillors said they felt powerless to find a way to resolve it.

Acting chairman Rodney Crafer said: 'The town council is very concerned. People are coming in from outside Norfolk and buying these homes which takes them off the market for local people.

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'It puts up the prices of property in Wells and makes them less accessible so there is a real shortage of affordable homes.'

Mr Lamb called the situation 'ludicrous' and said it affected rental and sale prices.

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'I have countless people contacting me in real housing need,' he said. 'The council ends up only able to house the crisis cases but if you are simply in need of a home close to your family you don't stand much chance.'

He said he would like to see homeowners have to apply for planning permission to change their permanent home into a second or holiday home.

'I am not anti-second homes,' he added. 'But I think there is a case where there are hot spots like this the community needs to get back some control.

'We should also sample the views of local people to help strike a better balance or the chances are Wells will cease to be a real community.'

According to the National Housing Federation's latest figures there are just over 5,000 second homes in north Norfolk, the highest district in the county and almost as many as in the whole of Suffolk.

The town council has written to Mr Lamb, the Holkham Estate to enquire what is to happen with a housing site to the south of the Hopkins Homes development, and NNDC regarding plans for utilising a £2.4m Community Housing Fund.

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